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1194 [1194]

K. Henry. 8. Supplication of Beggars.

Yes truly. Marginalia* The realme of England is diminished & decayed by the nūber of 200000. persons at least, or els replenished with so many whores and whoremaisters, by restraining of mariage frō priestes, Mōkes, Friers, Nunnes, Colleges, Hospitalls, Beadmen, and such lyke orders within the realme of England. The increase of which numbermyght bee recouered, and the realme more peopled, & also Gods commaūdements better kept, if these vowes of bondage were broken, and matrimonye permitted free to all men.* What an infinitie nomber of people might haue ben encreased to haue peopled the realme, if thys sorte of folke had bene maryed lyke other men? What breach of matrimony is there brought in by thē? such truly as was neuer since the world began, among the whole multitude of the heathen. Who is she that will set her handes to worke, to get iij. ḋ. a day, and may haue at least xx. ḋ. a day to slepe an houre with a Frier, a Monke, or a Priest? What is he that would labour for a grote a daye, and may haue at least xij. ḋ. a day to be baude to a Priest, a Mōke, or a Frier? what a sorte are there of them that mary Priestes soueraigne Ladyes, MarginaliaPriestes and Doues make foule houses.but to cloke the Priestes incōtinency, & that they may haue a liuing of þe Priestes, them selues for their labour? How many M. doth such lubricitie bryng to beggery, theft and idlenes, whiche should haue kept their good name, and haue set them selues to worke, had not ben this excessiue treasure of the spiritualtie? what honest man dare take any man or woman into his seruice, that hath bene at such a schole with a spirituall man?

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MarginaliaThe popes clergie, a shipwracke to all common wealthes.Oh the greuous shypwrake of the common wealth, whiche in aunciēt tyme before the cōmyng of these rauenous wolues, were so prosperous, that thē there were but fewe theeues: yea, theft was at that time so rare, that Cæsar was not compelled to make penaltie of death vpō felony, as your grace may well perceyue in his institutes. MarginaliaThe cause of so many beggars, theeues, and idle people in England.There was also at that tyme, but fewe poore people, and yet they did not begge, but there was giuen thē enough vnasked, for there was at that tyme, none of these rauenous wolues to aske it frō them, as it appeareth in þe Actes of þe Apostles. Is it any maruell though there be now so many beggars, theeues, and idle people? Nay truly.

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What remedye? 

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At this point in the treatise, Fish has basically claimed that the clergy are a separate state within the state, subject to their own rules and regulations, indeed, taking power away from the temporal authority all the time. His point here is that temporal law is ineffective.

make lawes agaynst them? I am in doubt whether ye bee able. MarginaliaThe Popes clergye stronger in Parlamētes, then princes, as hath appeared by theyr cruell lawes agaynst the poore Gospellers.Are they not stronger in your owne Parliament house then your selfe? What a nomber of Byshops, Abbats, and Priours, are Lordes of your Parliament? Are not all the learned men of your realme in fee with them, to speake in your Parliament house for them agaynst your crowne, dignitie, and common wealth of your realme, a few of your owne learned Councell onely excepted? MarginaliaNo lawe nor remedie agaynst the clergie.what law can bee made agaynst them that may be auailable? Who is he (though he be greued neuer so sore) þt for the murder of his auncester, rauishment of his wife, of his daughter, robbery, trespas, mayme, det, or any other offēce, dare lay it to their charge, by any way of actiō: and if he do, then is he by and by, by their wylines, accused of heresie: yea they will so handle him ere he passe, that, except he will beare a Fagot for theyr pleasure, he shalbe excommunicate, and then be all hys actions dashed.

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MarginaliaAll lawes and actions captiue to the clergie men.So captiue are your lawes vnto them, that no man whō they liste to excommunicate, may be admitted to sue any action in any of your Courtes. If any man in your Sessions dare be so hardy to endite a Priest of any such crime, he hath ere the yeare go out, such a yoke of heresie laide in his necke, that it maketh him wishe that he had not done it. Your grace may see what a worke there is in London: how the Byshop rageth for endityng of certaine Curates of extorcion and incontinencie the last yere in the wardmot quest. MarginaliaOf Rich. Hunne, read before pag. 930.Had not Richard Hunne commenced action of Premunire agaynst a Priest, 

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This refers to the great cause célèbre of the 1510s, the so-called Hunne case. In essence, Hunne refused to pay a fee to the parish priest (the rector of St Mary Matfelon in Whitechapel) for the burial of his child (March 1511). The priest sued Hunne in the ecclesiastical court of Audience (April 1512) - which found in the priest's favour - and Hunne counter-sued in the civil courts (January 1513) accusing the priest of slander and praemunire (acting upon the orders of a foreign power without the king's license). The London clergy rallied and charged Hunne with heresy as a result, and he was imprisoned in the Lollards' Tower of St Paul's Cathedral (October 1514). He committed suicide (4 December 1514) and his body was burned for heresy (20 December). A coroner's jury concluded (February 1515) that Hunne had been murdered while in prison. See E Jeffries Davis, 'The Authorities for the Case of Richard Hunne (1514-15)' in The English Historical Review 30 (July 1915), pp. 477-88.

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he had ben yet aliue and no hereticke at all, but an honest man. Did not diuers of your noble progenitours, seyng their crowne & dignitie runne into ruine, & to be thus craftely translated into the handes of this mischieuous generation, make diuers statutes for the reformation therof: MarginaliaThe statute of Mortmayne.among whiche the statute of Mortmayne 
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Mortmain is a legal condition in which land or property is possessed not by a person but by a non-personal legal entity (or corporation) like the church. The land or property, thereby, is not subject to inheritance fines. The two statutes (of 1279 and 1290) were attempts by Edward I to prevent too much land falling into the possession of the church (which limited the crown's revenues).

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was one, to the intent that after that tyme they should haue no more geuen vnto them? But what auayled it? haue they not gotten into their handes more landes since, then any Duke in Englād hath, the statute notwithstandyng? MarginaliaHalfe the profite of the realme in the clergies handes.Yea, haue they not for all that, translated into their handes from your grace, halfe your kyngdome throughly, the onely name remaining to you for your aūcetries sake? So you haue the name & they the profite. Yea I feare, if I should way al thinges to þe vttermost, they would also take the name vnto them, and of one kyngdome make twayne: the spirituall kyngdome as they call it (for they will bee named first) and your temporall kyngdome. And which of these ij. kyngdomes suppose you, is lyke to ouergrow the other, yea to put the other cleare out of memory? Truly the kyngdome of the bloudsuppers, for to them is giuen dayly out of your kyngdome: and that that is once geuen them, commeth neuer from them agayne. Such lawes haue they, that none of them may neyther geue nor sell nothyng. What law can be made so strong agaynst them, that they either with money, or els with other policie, will not breake and set at naught? what kyngdome can endure, that euer giueth thus frō hym, & receyueth nothing agayne? Oh how all the substaunce of your Realme, your sword, power, crowne, dignitie, and obedience of your people, runneth headlong into the insaciable whyrlepole of these gredye goulfes, to be swallowed and deuoured?

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MarginaliaThe most good, that the Popes clergie doth in England, is to pray mens soules out of Purgatorie.Neyther haue 

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This is one of Fish's theological arguments, this one against the doctrine of purgatory very much along sola scriptura lines.

they any other colour to gather these yearely exactions into theyr handes, but that they say they pray for vs to God, to deliuer our soules out of the paynes of Purgatory, without whose prayer they say, or at least without the Popes pardon, we could neuer be deliuered thence. Which if it be true, thē it is good reason þt we giue them all these thynges, although it were a C. tymes as much. But there be many men of great literature & iudgement, þt for the loue they haue vnto þe truth & vnto þe cōmon wealth, haue not feared to put thē selues into þe greatest infamy that may be, in abiection of all the world, yea in perill of death, to declare theyr opinion in this matter: MarginaliaPurgatorye denyed.whiche is, that there is no Purgatory, but that it is a thyng inuented by the couetousnes of the spiritualtie, onely to translate all kyngdomes from other princes, vnto them, and that there is not one word spokē of it in all holy Scripture. They say also, that if there were a Purgatory, and also if that the Pope with his pardons for money may deliuer one soule thence: 
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Fish here rejects the sale of indulgences, very much after the tenor of Luther's Ninety-five theses. The doctrine of purgatory was nonsensical in terms of scripture and, according to Fish, the sacrament of penance was more a financial expedient than anything else. Fish seems to (consciously?) misunderstand the doctrine of penance, however, insofar as it relates to indulgences. The indulgence derives from the donation of the penitent (considered to be his act of remorse or his necessary penalty for sin) and not from the action of the pope (who could not simply pardon all the souls without some evidence of genuine remorse).

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Marginalia* If the Pope may deliuer soules out of Purgatorye for money, he may then as wel deliuer them without money, if it pleased hym.
Agayne, if he deliuer one, hee can deliuer a thousand, if hee can deliuer a thousand, hee can deliuer all, and so make a gaile deliuerye, & a cleane dispatche of all Purgatorye, if hee would: & if he will not whē he may, then is there no charitie in hym.
hee may deliuer hym as well without money: if he may deliuer one, he may deliuer a thousād: if he may deliuer a thousand, he may deliuer them all, and so destroy Purgatory, and then is he a cruell Tyraunt, without all charitie, if he kepe them there in prison and in payne, till men will giue hym money.

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Likewise say they of all the whole sorte of the spiritualtie, that if they will praye for no man but for them that gyue them money, they are Tyrannes and lacke charitie, and suffer those soules to be punished and pained vncharitably for lacke of theyr prayers. Thys sort of folkes they call heretickes, these they burne, these they rage agaynst, put to open shame, and make them beare Fagottes. But whether they bee heretickes or no, wel I wotte that this Purgatory and the Popes pardons are all the cause of þe translation of your kyngdome so fast into theyr handes: wherfore it is manifest, it can not be of Christ, MarginaliaChrist submitted hym selfe vnder temporall gouernment.for hee gaue more to the temporall kyngdome, he hym selfe payd tribute to Cesar, he tooke nothyng from hym, but taught that the hygh Powers should be alwayes obeyed, yea he hym self (although he were most free, Lord of all, and innocent) was obedient vnto þe high Powers, vnto death. 

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Matthew 22.21.

MarginaliaThe cause touched, why the Popes clergie will not let the new Testament goe abroade in the mother tongue.This is the great scabbe, why they will not let the new Testament go abroad in your mother tongue, lest men should espye that they by theyr cloked hypocrisye, do translate thus fast, your kyngdome into theyr handes: that they are not obedient vnto your hygh power: that they are cruell, vncleane, vnmercyfull, and hypocrites: that they seke not the honor of Christ, but theyr owne: that remission of sinnes are not geuē by the Popes pardon, but by Christ, for the sure fayth and trust that we haue in hym. Marginalia* M. More here playeth the cauiller, noting the author of this supplication to desire leaue to raile of the whole clergie, as though the hipocrisie of the friers could not otherwyse be disclosed without raylyng of the whole clergie.Here may your grace well perceyue, that except you suffer theyr hypocrisye to be disclosed, all is like to runne into theyr handes, and as long as it is couered, so long shall it seme to euery mā to be a great impietye, not to geue thē. For this I am sure your grace thinketh (as the truth is) I am as good a mā as my father, why may I not aswell geue them as much as my father did? And of this minde I am sure, are all þe Lordes, Knightes, Squiers, Gentlemē & Yemen in Englād: yea & vntill it be disclosed, all your people wil thynke that your statute of Mortmaine was neuer made with no good conscience, seyng that it taketh away the libertie of your people, in that they may not as lawfully bye theyr soules out of Purgatory by geuyng to the spiritualtie, as theyr predecessours did in tymes past.

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Wherfore, if you will eschew the ruine of your crowne and dignitie, let theyr hypocrisye bee vttered, and that shalbe more spedefull in thys matter, then all the lawes that may be made, be they neuer so strong. For to make a law for to punishe any offender, except it were more for

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